For a hardcore fight fan and one who covers the sport regularly, the last two weeks have been a perfect time to take a vacation.
Action has been slow and the few fights taking place have hardly been mind-bending, big-ticket classics. The other boxing during the last several days has been of the Olympic variety and, despite the hype surrounding the chances of the U.S. Olympic team and the attempts at creating a buzz around the fights from London, fewer and fewer hardcore fans are caring about the goings-on from across the pond.
Casual fans might wonder why there's such a cut-off and deep divide between the professional and amateur versions of the sport. But for those of us who live and breathe boxing, it's easy to explain why even the most rabid of prizefighting fans are often indifferent to the amateur scene.
Take away the unknown names, head gear, three-round fights, and sterile atmosphere, and what remains is the real reason behind the Olympics' inability to capture the hearts and minds of many fight fans-- The scoring system.
Revamped following the Roy Jones Jr. scandal in the 1988 Olympic games in Seoul, South Korea, the current scoring system employs five judges who register scoring blows on an electronic pad. And, while that system may sound fair and logical on paper, it has wreaked havoc on the overall entertainment value of the bouts.
First, the game has been shifted away from old school pacing and classic ring generalship in favor of a "flick and fly" style focused on registering quick scoring shots at the expense of stronger, harder punching. Since only the white portion of the glove needs to make contact in order to get a point, fighters have worked to get in and out, making as little contact as needed to get the judges' eye.
Along the way, inside fighting, which is harder to see and score than long-ranging pecking, has virtually disappeared from major amateur competitions. The disappearance of the inside game has also removed much of the back-and-forth brutality that has, historically, made boxing such a compelling sport.
Throw in an anemic American amateur scene, which has been lost between developing real fighters and medal winners, and you get a recipe for rampant disinterest in Olympic boxing.
Can this change?
Maybe. All it would take is one phenomenally charismatic, successful Olympic team to make people forget the dreadful state of the amateur structure and/or a complete restructuring of the system, itself, but don't count on it.
It's more likely that Olympic Boxing will continue to be a two-week period of fistic limbo for many hardcore fight fans.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
NBC Olympics, Boxing Scoring System
- Sports & Recreation
- Olympic boxing